Show Less
Restricted access

People Need to Know

Confronting History in the Heartland


Robert M. Lucas

People Need to Know follows a group of students as they study the defining event in their community’s history – a 1930 lynching that was captured in one of the century’s most iconic and disturbing photographs. With ambitions of contributing to public understanding, the students set out to create a collection of online resources about the lynching. As they encounter troubling information and consider how best to present it to others, the students come to better understand the complex ethical ramifications of historical work and to more fully appreciate why their learning matters. Through the stories of these students, their teacher, and an author re-immersed in the town of his own childhood, the book develops an approach to curriculum in which students create products of value beyond the school walls. In a time of educational standardization, when assignments and assessments often fail to deliberately engage the ethically charged and locally particular contexts of students’ lives, Robert M. Lucas proposes that we see learning in their creation and appreciation of public value. The book will be of particular interest for courses in curriculum studies and in history and social studies education.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access



In Marion, in May 2011—while sipping coffee at the Spencer House, if memory serves—I came across a blog entry written by the Harvard scholar and school reformer Richard Elmore, which he had posted to the website In his post, Elmore sketches two classes that he says are fairly typical of those encountered in his research. One class is “regular” English; the other, “honors.” Much like Sizer before him, Elmore describes the classrooms as uninspiring and intellectually shallow—scenes, alternatingly, of boredom and a kind of contented quiescence.1 In the “regular” class, a teacher attempts to stimulate discussion, but most students hold side conversations or “[sit] silently, staring into space, waiting for the bell to ring.” In “honors” English, students organize their papers, notes, and quizzes into three-ring binders. Elmore comments:

It is clear that the students are having a good time doing this; it is also clear that they have written a total of about ten pages of prose between January and May; and it is clear that the main reason they are having a good time is that they are forestalling whatever the “work” is for that day. After forty-five minutes of excruciatingly detailed, rule-oriented discussion of what goes where in the portfolio, the teacher suggests that the students spend the next forty minutes silently reading a section of the text. (2011)

← 139 | 140 →According to Elmore, the most demanding classes, like Advanced Placement, move faster, but are fundamentally similar...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.